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Bad questions

One of our goals at this site is to get people to ask politicians smart, tough questions designed to hold those politicians accountable; see the question authority page for the full discussion.

The posts on this page contain examples of dumb or weak questions that politicians were asked, in order to provide examples of what not to do.

Last modified Jan 6, 2010
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

Yet another ranting idiot helps John McCain with a weak townhall question (Arizona, Syria) - 10/23/13

... portray his opponents as wrong. See bad questions for dozens of other examples, and see Question Authority for the much smarter alternative to videos like the one below.

Numbers USA highlights their members getting snowed by politicians, failing to stop amnesty - 09/02/13

... main plan to block amnesty), bad questions (with lots of examples), and the guide to asking tough questions. 9/18/13 UPDATE: Needless to say, Numbers USA hasn't learned. They offer a "Summer Recess Activism Recap" ( peekURL.com/zNXBj9e ) which includes yet another example of one of their members failing to do anything against amnesty, and then being feted by Numbers USA: I asked him where he...

Reddit Ask Me Anything of Obama was OK, if you want to enable the corrupt establishment - 08/30/12

... Questions. See many past examples of bad questions at the link. And, compare the questions at [2] to those in some of the posts on the Question Authority authority page. Which is better for the U.S.: that politicians are asked for recipes, or that they're asked to explain the flaws in their policies? Please contact @alexisohanian and others associated with Reddit and suggest they consider...

Ted Cruz keeps saying the same things on immigration (attrition, amnesty) - 07/27/12

... those asking him questions; see bad questions for past examples of citizens not doing their jobs. A major Cruz backer is FreedomWorks, headed by illegal immigration supporter Dick Armey. Armey is or was affiliated with Helen Krieble, a wealthy heiress with her own guest worker plan. Armey has also rubbed shoulders with Mike Pence, author of his own similar plan. If Cruz wins, would he support...

Republican debate January 19, 2012 (South Carolina, CNN, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Ron Paul) - 01/19/12

Brace yourself for yet one more worthless GOP debate. It starts today, January 19 at 9pm Eastern. NETWORK: CNN MODERATOR: John King. WHERE: South Carolina PARTICIPANTS: And then there were four: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. Rick Perry dropped out earlier today. TRANSCRIPT: When available. WHAT TO WATCH FOR: For a preview of this debate, see debates. As with all the...

Juan Williams' dumb question for Mitt Romney (immigration, Mexico, booing) - 01/17/12

One of Fox News' favorite liberal lightweights, Juan Williams, asked the GOP presidential candidates a series of dumb questions at last night's Republican Party debate. Here's just one of them: WILLIAMS: Governor Romney, your father was born in Mexico. You still have family there, yet you have taken the hardest line of anyone on this stage on immigration reform, including opposition to key parts...

Kelly Evans' weak immigration question for Rick Perry backfires (WSJ) - 01/17/12

... with the other examples on the bad questions page. What she asked is akin to tearing up flood drains because it hasn't rained in a while, and that would be stupid. Unless others start discrediting its supporters and soon, illegal immigration will pick up again as soon as the economy picks up. Does the WSJ think Fox News viewers don't know that and would fall for the WSJ's attempts to weaken...

Dick Durbin refuses to answer bad Tea Party question; "reporters" run cover for Durbin - 08/12/11

... that led to the downgrade. See bad questions for several past examples. Instead, of answering, Durbin simply reinforced the (correct) idea of a biased, lapdog media. Unfortunately, he's also increased the paranoia of the tea parties types and gave them yet another instance of victimization to rally around. Luckily for him, they won't be able to do anything about it: they'll keep on asking bad...

S.E. Cupp asks GOP candidates weak questions at Twitter "debate" (140Townhall, Rusty Humphries, Tea Party) - 07/20/11

Earlier today, SE Cupp moderated a Twitter-based tea parties "debate" with several GOP candidates for president [1]. She acted the role of the shill, asking them very weak questions and not doing a public service. Interns at Godfather's Pizza were probably asked tougher questions in their job interviews than the ones that Cupp asked Herman Cain and others. Make sure and see the background on one...

Jack Dorsey of Twitter asks Obama very weak questions (AskObama, Will Wilkinson, Steven Norton, Kara McGuire, Dorrine Mendoza, Raman Chadha, Karl Smith, Kim Quillen, Drew Cline) - 07/06/11

... Obama and others in the past, see bad questions, popular voting systems, CNN, debates, Youtube corporate, Google corporate, Facebook, and Steve Grove. For the other side of things, see my guide to asking politicians tough questions and the question authority plan. My Failed Attempt to Make this Work Note that six days before this event I posted a plan to make AskObama work, but I didn't get any...

Glenn Reynolds, Ace support mindless, authoritarian heckling of Newt Gingrich - 05/17/11

... many other examples, see the bad questions page). And, we aren't getting it from self-styled citizen journalists and bloggers. For instance, "Ace of Spades" (Ace Mu Nu) says of the quote (ace.mu . nu/archives/316264.php): "I'm not a fan of heckling, so I say this without endorsing it: That's an effective heckle." Whether he endorses it or not, it's not unfair to say that he supports it. He knows...

Obama gets angry (in ineffective interview featuring weak questions) - 04/19/11

Barack Obama recently spoke with Brad Watson of WFAA in an interview (link, video below) that was sold by Matt Drudge and others as some sort of watershed moment ("FIRST TIME: REPORTER TURNS AGGRESSIVE WITH OBAMA" was his headline). Certainly, almost all reporters have treated Obama extremely reverentially and from that perspective the interview is markedly different. However, the interview was...

Cecilia Munoz misleads about DREAM Act (White House "Open for Questions") - 11/30/10

... of questions from her side and bad questions from those on the other side; all of the latter she was able to deflect with ease. Since the questions were pre-screened it probably would have been pointless to try to ask something she'd have trouble with, but readers are urged to go to public appearances by her and other administration officials and really press them on the downsides of the...

Can Meg Whitman answer questions on her own? And, does Chris Christie support open debate? - 09/23/10

... one of her future events. See bad questions for other examples of people making low-wattage statements instead of asking good questions, and see question authority for how to do things in smarter ways.

Melissa Bean's "thug" vs. teaparty libertarian idiot at public meeting - 08/16/10

... statements not questions. See the bad questions page for other examples. If you're going to ask a politician a question, make sure it's an actual question, it's factual, and it's not open-ended. If the teapartiers/libertarians actually wanted to do something (besides playing to their limited crowd), they'd find one or two smart, sane, civil, mainstream people - preferably trial lawyers - to ask...

Is Pete Stark concerned about eVerify keeping illegal aliens from being hired? (Steve Kemp, Golden Gate Minutemen) - 08/03/10

Steve Kemp of the "Golden Gate Minutemen" has been behind two smash Youtube hits featuring Rep. Pete Stark. The videos are at the tea parties level as far as stupidity (very high) and utility (very low) are concerned. They do, however, get Steve Kemp and his group a lot of attention, but then again that isn't going to reduce illegal immigration. A recent hit is entitled "The Federal Government...

Pete Stark smears Minutemen; inept questioner just takes it, asks weak questions - 06/29/10

... is like all the others in the bad questions file: it's just a show, it's not going to change any minds, and those involved were not doing a public service but are just wasting others' time. 7/2/10 UPDATE: Regarding why this post concentrates on the questioner and not Stark, let me put it this way: if a bear steals your food at night, who are you going to blame, the bear, or the person whose job...

Joe Biden asked "lower our taxes" at custard shop: why that's ineffective - 06/27/10

Joe Biden recently visited Kopps Custard in Greenfield, Wisconsin and got custard on his face! He asked the manager how much he owed him, and the manager replied "lower our taxes"; see that on the attached video, and note that Biden later called him a "smartass" (link). This is all great fun and quite entertaining, but considering the massive problems the U.S. is having none of it is helping. In...

Rep. Bob Etheridge grabs arm of College Republican asking dumb question (Breitbart) - 06/14/10

... the student had is one of those bad questions: "Do you fully support the Obama agenda?" and it's on the same level as and uses the same "ambush" technique as the GOP has been doing for over a year. Actually, whether they're still doing videos like that isn't clear, because they never had an impact. While there's the possibility that the student was simply using the first question as an entree...

Glenn Reynolds promotes ineffective tirades against politicians (borderline harassment; alcohol) - 04/13/10

On Sunday, Barney Frank was flying from L.A. to Boston when two sisters on the flight - apparently ophthalmologists - tried to engage him in debate about Obama healthcare. When he declined, they began shouting at him, and apparently alcohol was involved (link). Per one of the passengers: "The women had been drinking, and they were crying and shouting... They were clearly the antagonizers, and Mr...

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz completely "p0wns" her Tea Party constituents (Obamacare) - 04/06/10

... leaders resulted in. See the bad questions page for several highly similar examples. A similar recent case - and the solution to this issue - is discussed here. The videos are at these links: peekURL.com/vt3rdg1 peekURL.com/vti48mk peekURL.com/vvefb82 The second is the most raucous. UPDATE: Want to see more p0wnage? Her Republican challenger, Brian Reilly, has uploaded two videos from the same...

Jason Mattera smears Alan Grayson with stupid, misleading question (+Glenn Reynolds) - 03/26/10

... basically just a clown who asks bad questions rather than asking questions that would be effective.

Steve Grove asks Obama weak questions live on Youtube ("Your" Interview with the President) - 02/01/10

Earlier today, Steve Grove - Youtube's director of news and politics programming - interviewed Barack Obama live on Youtube (and on the White House's live feed) and asked him a series of weak questions that he answered with ease. Some or all of the questions he was asked were submitted by Youtube's visitors, very few of whom are familiar with specialized topics and with asking tough questions....

Obama devastates GOP "arguments" live on TV (House Republican retreat) - 01/30/10

Barack Obama appeared at a nationally-televised House Republican retreat in Baltimore yesterday at which several leading Republicans asked him questions which he then handled with ease. He "p0wned" them so badly that Fox News cut away from the coverage twenty minutes before it ended. What the House members asked were weak, open-ended question or simply requests. They weren't adversarial questions...

Regular citizens asking elites tough questions usually fails (HuffPost example) - 01/13/10

Eliot Spitzer has posted some questions for bankers, see that link for the details and the link. And, probably in an attempt at just ginning up page views, the Huffington Post has invited their readers to submit questions. The submissions once again illustrate how regular citizens asking the elites questions serves the interests of those elites. The regular citizens think they're taking on the...

Feingold constituents falsely think they're holding him accountable, when they're helping him - 01/12/10

The video at peekURL.com/vle9byx (note: loud profanity) is entitled "Feingold Called Out" and features a recent townhall appearance by Sen. Russ Feingold. In fact, it's yet another example of failure by those in the tea parties sphere: 1. Feingold wasn't "called out". His opponents made statements and yelled at him, but he was able to deflect their open-ended statements. 2. The profanity noted...

Why didn't Randall Terry "cross-examine" Sen. Casey about abortion? (disrupts event, has little impact instead) - 01/12/10

The video at peekURL.com/vyzf9ay shows pro-life activists affiliated with Randall Terry disrupting a speech by senator Bob Casey at an event unrelated to abortion issues. They shouted that he's a hypocrite and that he can't be trusted due to him allegedly supporting funding of abortions in other countries. Needless to say, Casey disagrees, trying to interrupt them and say they aren't telling the...

Example: how to make a question for a politician better (Obama healthcare) - 12/10/09

The page mentioned in the previous post (toptenhealthcarequestions.com) contains this question for Barack Obama: The Administration has repeatedly claimed that its health care reform plan will not cover illegal aliens. The Congressional Research Service recently issued a report contradicting the Administration's position, stating "H.R. 3200 does not contain any restrictions on non-citizens...

Tea party "patriots" to storm U.S. Senate, engage in sit-in just like far-left SDS used to do - 12/10/09

From "Tea Party Patriots to Storm Senate Offices" (taxdayteaparty.com/2009/12/tea-party-patriots-to-storm-senate-offices): It is time, once again, to flex our muscle and exert that influence to hold the line in our fight against the government takeover of healthcare... On Tuesday, December 15 at 8:45 AM thousands of us will meet in Washington, DC at the fountain in Upper Senate Park. From there...

PJTV clueless about asking tough questions (CEI, Climategate) - 11/30/09

Glenn Reynolds alerts us (pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/89283) to the Pajamas Media video "Warmists Give Climategate The Cold Shoulder", subtitled "What do Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Center for American Progress have to say about the growing Climategate scandal?" (pjtv.com/v/2770). Rushing posthaste to watch it - but not to give PJTV any money - I was to a small extent expecting them to...

WeAreChange screams at Al Gore, helps him by portraying his opponents as insane - 11/30/09

A group from the Chicago branch of the We Are Change group - part of the "911 Truth movement" - showed up at a recent book signing by Al Gore, asked him weak questions, and then began screaming at him as they were hustled out of the store. See the attached video, and ask yourself: "to almost all people, won't WeAreChange members appear to be borderline insane? Won't this incident - among the...

Canadian comedian tries to embarrass Sarah Palin; fails; shows abysmal level of debate in U.S. - 11/27/09

Mediaite offers "Canadian Comedian Fails Miserably In Trying To Embarrass Sarah Palin" (link): During a book signing event in Columbus, Ohio, Canadian Comedian Mary Walsh ambushed (Sarah Palin) with camera crew and microphone to seek her thoughts on the Canadian health care system (and ostensibly embarrass her as well.) While the event security detail prevented a meaningful interview, Palin did...

Lindsey Graham: GOP isn't going to be "party of angry white guys" (+more ineffective townhall ranting) - 10/13/09

From this: An often clamorous crowd blasted, grilled and occasionally cheered Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a town hall meeting Monday that centered on health care reform but returned repeatedly to his positions on climate change, judicial appointees and immigration. Graham returned the fire with a grin, at times shouting over his most boisterous critics and telling some who...

Jim Geraghty, Glenn Reynolds promote anti-intellectualism (10/7/09 edition; Steve Israel townhall) - 10/07/09

Last night, Rep. Steve Israel of New York held a townhall meeting that per this consisted mainly of shouting and other anti-intellectual behavior. One question that was asked of him is provided at the link, and it isn't a good question. The smarter thing for those attending to do would be to find a few among them who are experienced with "cross-examining" people and give them some good questions...

Michael Chertoff grilled on CSPAN by sheer geniuses - 09/22/09

One of these days I'm going to get CSPAN and start calling in to their interview shows in an attempt to ask politicians questions that will make them look bad. For a counter-example, a few days ago former Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff made an appearance and was apparently asked a series of questions about a potential 911 conspiracy; the video is here. I haven't watched it...

The tea parties aren't just for extremist libertarian Randroids. Oh, no. Of course not. - 09/06/09

The video at [SEE UPDATE] shows a tea party organizer from Seattle reading a Randroid rant she wrote complaining about redistribution in relation to Obama healthcare. She wants people to be left alone rather than some being "plundered" in order to fund UHC. At root, her argument isn't just with excessive redistribution, with pork, with connected contractors, with the social negatives of...

Demagogues get wish: Jim Moran townhall "descends into chaos" - 08/25/09

From this: Rep. Jim Moran's town hall meeting descended into chaos Tuesday night as protestors clashed -- in one case violently -- with supporters of a broad federal health care expansion, leading the 8th District Democrat to angrily seek to evict some of the loudest demonstrators. Moran and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean addressed a crowd of at least 2,500 at South Lakes High School in Reston,...

Citizen challenges President Obama to stay true to progressive principles! - 08/22/09

Welcome to the premiere edition of BYOSAK: "Build Your Own Soviet Allusion Kit". Your words today are velikiy (great, as in Peter) and grozniy (terrible, as in Ivan). Your goal: use those (or, alternatively, allusions to 1984) in relation to "Joe The Nerd: The Man Who Challenged Obama On Health Care" by Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/21/joe-the-nerd-the-man-...

NRA member "Randy the Welder" unwittingly helps Obama at Montana townhall - 08/18/09

The video here from Obama's August 14 health care townhall in Montana shows a local welder taking around a minute to ask him a question. He first points out that he's a proud NRA member, then gives a shout-out to cable news (presumably Fox News), and then launches into an incredibly weak question. He basically wants to know how Obama is going to pay for all this stuff. That's certainly something...

"Becky": poster girl for unwitting supporters of Obamacare (townhall ranter) - 08/15/09

The attached video features someone who, not knowing her real name, I'll call "Becky". Becky is helping push Obama healthcare, even if she thinks she's doing the opposite. She's not alone: all those I've seen so far who think they're opposing Obamacare are in effect either helping promote it or aren't doing as good a job to oppose it as they could. The video description is: "Cass County Campaign...